Companies

Future uncertain – for the young and the old alike

Suresh P Iyengar Mumbai | Updated on August 01, 2014 Published on August 01, 2014

Little choice A file photo of investors protesting outside the Financial Technologies office in Mumbai. The investors are still clueless when they will be able to recover their investments.

Two years after retiring from the RBI and on dialysis now, K Pramoda Mayya is struggling to meet his medical expenses.

Mayya had invested ₹35 lakh two years ago after his broker Systematic Commodities assured him of a 13-15 per cent annual return. The former RBI officer did his homework before ploughing a portion of his retirement proceeds, signing on the dotted lines.

He visited the exchange’s website which indicated that it is regulated by the Forward Markets Commission and has settlement guarantee fund of ₹800 crore.

A year on after NSEL stopped its operation following the payment default, he has received just ₹2 lakh as part of the settlement process. “I’m more worried about the long legal battle to recover the remaining money,” says a fragile-sounding Mayya.

“We never imagined that our broker would leave us in such dire straits as the invoice given to us listed out various commodities such as sugar, cotton were bought on our behalf,” said his wife.

Many investors like Mayya stare an uncertain future over their investments as the process to settle their dues and take legal action prolongs. He is now part of the NSEL Investors Forum which has many retired bankers, Government employees and teachers as its members. The forum is spearheading the legal process to recover money.

But the tragedy of NSEL scam doesn’t stop with these people alone.

Take for instance 55-year-old Kirit Vinaykanth, anace arbitrageur in the stock market during his hey days invested ₹35 lakh in his account and another ₹26 lakh on his wife Jagruti’s behalf.

Seth is at loss for words when asked how hopeful he is of getting the money back. “People say only high networth investors put money in NSEL. This is completely wrong. Ninety per cent of the 13,500 investors put in less than one crore and most of them are senior citizens,” says Seth reeling out details on investors as he assists NSEL Investors Forum for a monthly payment of ₹30,000-35,000.

Young Asish Sheth has a more moving tale, of investing in NSEL and being unable to save his father, to narrate. He invested ₹70 lakh of his savings in NSEL, just three months before the spot exchange went bust.

The fallout: He was unable to mobilise ₹15 lakh for his father’s heart operation, losing him in the process. Sheth says he will be unable forgive himself for life.

“Today, my father would have been alive if not for my stupid decision to invest in NSEL,” he says, moved to tears.

Kolkata-based lawyer Jagadish Prakash Sharma and his wife Gita Devi invested ₹25 lakh last year on a paddy contract, lured by an assured return of 16 per cent.

“I received about ₹4.5 lakh as the first payout. After that, it has been anything between ₹500 and ₹1,500 being paid intermittently (once a week or once a fortnight). It seems as if they do not want to pay back the investors,” said Sharma. He has little hope of getting back his entire investment.

In Sharma and his wife’s case, they had no intention of taking delivery of the paddy. They had simultaneously inked a contract to sell the paddy to move the chain forward. The deliveries were never meant to be executed. It is another issue that the stocks existed only on paper.

Sharad Kumar Saraf, Chairman, NSEL Investors Forum, who met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is confident that investors will get their money if the Government plays a proactive role.

Asked what the Forum has achieved in last one year, Saraf says that the Forum has asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to set up a special court under the Maharashtra Protection of Depositors Interest Act to speed up the recovery process. On its part, the Mumbai High Court has appointed deputy collector of Mumbai Ajit Sakhare as the competent authority to handle the recovery process.

(With inputs from K Raghavendra Rao)

Published on August 01, 2014
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